Sunday, 17 November 2019

Engine problems to cause Air New Zealand cancellations

Air New Zealand has flagged cancellations and schedule changes over the peak summer period - pointing the finger at engine supplier Rolls-Royce.

"Like many other airlines around the world, for the past couple of years we’ve been managing challenges with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines fitted to our Boeing 787-9 aircraft," Air New Zealand said in a email to customers. 

"We thought these issues were almost behind us, however Rolls-Royce has informed us that our newer Trent 1000 TEN engines also require maintenance earlier than expected. 

"Alongside this, Rolls-Royce has told us it doesn’t have the capacity to do this maintenance work quickly, as we are just one of many airlines affected globally.

"Some of our flights will be impacted this summer.

"Getting customers to their destinations is our top priority. We’re doing all we can to minimise disruption, but unfortunately we need to make a limited number of cancellations and changes to some flights over summer.

Most of these changes are contained to our Perth flights and we estimate around 14,000 customers will be impacted by cancellations. Flights within New Zealand will not be affected.

We are deeply disappointed to be in this position again, but safety is paramount and non-negotiable."

Passengers whose flights are affected will be contacted by Air New Zealand, said acting CEO Jeff McDowall.

Artisan tastes of the Apple Isle: Tasmania

A lot of ciders in Australia are made from apples that were designed for eating, not drinking. 

Willie Smith's in Tasmania has a focus on heritage apple varieties that have been used for traditional ciders in England and France. 

The latest such release is the Kingston Black 2019, a follow-up to the 2018 release of the cider made from the same apple, which rapidly sold out.

The Huon Valley business started planting heirloom apple varieties over six years ago to ensure greater complexity in its traditional style ciders, with the trees now starting to become more established.

The 2019 Kingston Black is a single varietal cider that showcases the world-renowned English heirloom apple of the same name, known for its aromas and complex flavour profile.

Willie Smith’s co-founder Sam Reid said he hoped there would be enough of the new drop to keep customers satisfied longer - last season’s release sold out months ago.

“We were really excited to get a bumper crop of Kingston Black this harvest, as this cider grows in popularity year on year," he said. "It’s been great to see Australia’s craft drinkers embracing this more complex style cider that really shows just how good cider can be.” 

Reid said he expects the variety to do for the Tasmanian cider industry what pinot noir has done for Tasmania’s wine reputation.

“We think Kingston Black is the pinot Noir of the cider apple world," he said."It’s tricky to grow and tricky to work with. But with love, patience and a lot of attention to detail, this variety can produce exceptional ciders with outstanding aroma and structure.”

Head cider maker Tim Jones said “This year’s release showcases the stunning aromatics of this awesome variety – it’s intriguing, with standout fresh green apple and sherbet aromatics.

“With crisp acidity it’s a great lower alcohol alternative to wine - perfect for summer lunchtime drinking.” 

The Willie Smith’s team will be serving the latest release at events over the summer including the Big Design Market (Melbourne, December 6-7), the Taste of Tasmania (Hobart) and Festivale (Launceston).

The 2019 Kingston Black is sold in 750ml bottles with an RRP of $30. Also new from the same team the Charles Oates Apple Brandy, inspired by the tradition of Calvados in North-West France. 

This handsome tribute can be enjoyed as a digestif or with mature cheeses or rich desserts. It weighs in at 42% alc/vol and retails for $130. Briliant!

Celebrate Anzac Day with a special cruise

A special Murray River cruise will mark the Anzac Day holiday, with guests able to choose between a three-day or seven-day adventure on the PS Murray Princess. 

Departing Monday, April 20, or Friday, April 24, 2020, on board the paddlewheeler Murray Princess, the Anzac Day cruise promises to be something special. 

A special dawn service on April 25 will be followed by a traditional Gun Fire Breakfast and game of Two-Up. There will also be an Anzac trivia quiz and buffet lunch. 

In addition to celebrating Anzac Day, the cruise will explore the Murray River and uncover its history. 

Food and wine lovers can sample some of the Murray and Riverland regions produce and wines with a structured tasting event held on board in the Sturt Dining Room as part of the three-day cruise.

The seven-night cruise will visit historic Swan Reach and feature a cellar door tasting and tour of the vineyard at Burk Salter Boutique Winery.

There is also the chance to learn about Aboriginal history at the Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve - and take part in a guided boardwalk tour of ancient rock carvings.

The three-night cruise departs Mannum at 4.30pm on Friday, April 24, 2020 and early booking saver fares start from $941 per person twin share.

The seven-night cruise departs Mannum at 4.30pm on Monday, April 20, and Friday, April 24 with early booked fares starting from $2053 per person twin share.

Cruise fares include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, Anzac Day activities, on-board presentations, wifi, the Captain's Dinner and use of ship's facilities including a sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and a mini gymnasium.

Complimentary coach transfers from Adelaide, or secure car-parking in Mannum, are also included.

For further information visit

Friday, 15 November 2019

Four fun wine labels to look out for

Wine lovers enjoy nothing more than being the first in their group of friends to discover an
exciting new wine producer.

Here is the lowdown on four of the hottest Australian wine labels that will delight you –
and put you ahead of the crowd.

Atze’s Corner
The first Kalleske family members arrived in the Barossa Valley in 1847 and various branches of the family have been involved in grape growing and the wine industry ever since. 

The newest Kalleske venture is Atze’s Corner, which produces wines made from shiraz,
mataro, graciano, petite syrah/durif, montepulciano, grenache, cabernet sauvignon and

The family recently opened a cellar door which offers views over the valley along with
tastings and produce platters.

Atze’s is run by sixth-generation Barossa vigneron Andrew Kalleske and the fruit used
includes grapes from vines dating back to 1912.

Minimal intervention practices in the winery include using open, small-batch fermentation,
hand plunging and pumping, gentle oak maturation and minimal filtration. The wines have a
delicious savoury element.
Mewstone Wines/Hughes & Hughes
Well-travelled winemaker Jonny Hughes and his brother Matthew are based in the hamlet
of Flowerpot in the Channel region south of Hobart, but source fruit from all over Tasmania.

The small-batch wines tend be made with minimal intervention.

Last year the brothers were named Best New Act in the national Young Guns of Wine
awards and best newcomers in the James Halliday Wine annual.

While the Mewstone wines are strictly produced from the Flowerpot vineyard, the
Hughes & Hughes range of wines brings together fruit sourced from around Tasmania,
with the aim of producing wines that are high on both natural acidity and drinkability.

In addition, individual small batches are released that capture the results of
investigations into the use of skins, stalks, solids and other fermentation variables. All
Hughes & Hughes wines are bottled unfined and with low sulphur.
Liz Heidenreich Wines
For the past 13 years Liz Heidenreich has been the winemaker at Sevenhill Cellars, the
Jesuit-owned winery in the Clare Valley. Before that she did four vintages as winemaker for
British pop star Sir Cliff Richard’s Vida Nova brand.

Now Heidenreich, whose family have grown wine grapes since 1936, has struck out on her
own with three releases under her own label, a bold Barossa shiraz, a Barossa grenache and a Clare Valley riesling. 

“My philosophy is to source small parcels of fruit from the regions in which they excel and
handcraft individual batches that capture the fruit’s formidable character.

”I’m really pleased that this new venture recognises my family’s long association with the
Barossa Valley and their involvement in grape-growing and winemaking.”

Heidenreich is also moonlighting as consultant winemaker for Peter Teakle Wines at Port
No website.
Lost Farm Wines
Richard Angove caught the Tasmanian wine bug when doing a vintage stint at Tamar Ridge
back in 2008. 

Angove, a fifth-generation member of one of Australia's most famous wine and brandy-making families, loves drinking fresh, vibrant fruit-driven wines, so decided to make some small batches of his own on the Apple Isle.

The Lost Farm, Angove's personal range of two sparkling wines, along with a chardonnay
and a pinot noir, has recently launched. 

Angove had stints working at Tahbilk, Domaine Carneros in California and Brokenwood
before re-joining the family firm, which has been in the wine business since 1886.

The name has a double-barrelled impact. It refers first to a Tea Tree Gully vineyard the
family was forced to surrender to urban creep in McLaren Vale back in 1974, but also shares its name with one of Tasmania's finest golf courses, which will be selling the wines. 

Angove is making the wines at the Josef Chromy facility, working with Jeremy Dineen,
before finishing them off at the high-tech Angove facility in Renmark.

"Clean and fresh wines is what I am looking for, because that is the style I love to drink," 
Angove said. "I have relished the chance to work with high-quality, cool-climate fruit."

This is an edited extract of a story that first appeared on

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Discover your inner dope fiend on a new tour

Visitors to Los Angeles keen to get up close and personal with the city's legal week trade are being invited to discover their inner dope fiend.
Starline Tours has announced a new tour rolling (see what they did there) around Los Angeles in partnership with HERBARIUM, the only marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles with a grow room on display and a glass-blowing demonstration for smoking accessories and collectibles. 
The new Hollywood 420 Celebrity Tour will include a compact tour of Hollywood celebrity homes along with celebrity-spotting locations and then a full experience at HERBARIUM.

The HERBARIUM experience will feature a 20-minute demonstration in the ancient art of glass blowing, a special viewing window into the world of marijuana growing in HERBARIUM's curated indoor cultivation facility, an introduction to cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and marijuana products for both recreational and medicinal use, along with a goodie bag. 
Beginning December 1, the two-hour tour will operate daily with the first tour departing Orange Court at Hollywood & Highland at 9:30am and continuing throughout the day with the last tour departing at 4pm.
The introductory price for the new tour is $79 and available online at
The dispensary, well-known among many entertainment industry figures, is a common location to spot A-list celebrities visiting the store. 
Many Hollywood stars embrace the benefits of CBD and marijuana use. 
The location's exterior wall is quickly becoming one of the latest Los Angeles Instagram backgrounds—a lush, green mural of healthy marijuana plants in a natural setting custom painted on site by artist David Sanner (the tour includes time for selfies).
Tour participants must show a valid ID to prove legal age to enter the HERBARIUM portion of the tour. Ingesting edible products is allowed on the tour. Smoking and vaping are prohibited.

A Bangkok hotel with a very different focus

Bangkok is a party town. And many of the people visiting the Sukhumvit district have some serious liquid socialising in mind. 

One hotel, however, wants visitors to focus on their well being rather than visiting pubs and clubs. 

The 235-room and suites Well Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is offering guests a $378 three-day, two-night Being Well holiday season package for two.

Focused on well-being, the offer includes a 60-minute wellness activity with a choice of aromatherapy massage, ancient Thai massage, Muay Thai class or a personal fitness training session. 

Also included in the package are a daily buffet breakfast, complimentary in-room minibar, 15% discount on the standard menu at Well Spa, 35% discount on food on a la carte menu at Eat Well CafĂ©, complimentary access to Well Fitness, outdoor salted water swimming and group exercise classes, and a special rate on extended nights. 

The deal is available from now until March 31, 2020, with a supplement of $24 net per night applied for stays between December 25, 2019, and January 10, 2020.

More than half a million Australians visit Bangkok each year for holidays and business - and many have their personal favourite hotels. 

The Well Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 aims to attract visitors looking to maintain healthy lifestyles in a city that never sleeps. 

All executive suites and rooms are equipped with an exercise bike, yoga and pilates equipment. Guests can also join the free group exercise classes daily. 

The hotel is located in central Sukhumvit with all its restaurants and bars, clubs, retail malls, food markets, tailors and shops. 

It is within  easy walking distance from the BTS Skytrain (Asok), MRT Subway (Sukhumvit), Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre and several luxury malls. 

Nearby Benjakiti Park is one of Bangkok’s most popular parks offering space for joggers, walkers and cyclists.  

Well has apparently been open for three years - I'll be checking it out on my next visit. 

For details see

Discover a permanent new food festival in Melbourne

Melbourne is set to welcome a permanent festival of food - with the desperately dull name of Grazeland.

To be located next to Scienceworks in Spotswood, west of the CBD, Grazeland aims to pay homage to the city's diverse food scene. 

The precinct, at present a barren industrial site, will offer a casual dining experience by bringing together a diversity of local producers, live entertainers, and consumers.

Spanning across 10,000sqm, Grazeland will host over 50 sweet and savoury food vendors, three fully licensed bars, artisan stalls selling locally designed products, roving entertainers and live performances, creating a food festival experience.

“Given Melbourne’s amazing culinary scene, there is no better city to introduce a permanent festival of food," says says John Forman, the Grzeland managing director. "Grazeland will bring together the multicultural tastes that Melbourne is known for in one location, giving everyone the chance to discover a world of new flavours.” 

The new destination will be open every Friday-Saturday-Sunday of the year with outdoor seating to make the most of the warm summer days and cover for the rainier ones. I hope they've got a few braziers on order as we all know how cold Melbourne can be in winter. 

Designed by Push Projects with Phil Bucknell of Milieu Projects, the festival park will incorporate a series of themed spaces as varied as the food offerings themselves.

March is proposed opening date.   

For more information visit